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Latest developments discussed at our second Ask the Researcher event

Improving access to clinical trials and the importance of support for everyone affected by a brain tumour diagnosis were among the key topics discussed

The evening took place at The Business Design Centre in London on Tuesday and gave patients and families the chance to quiz leading researchers in the brain tumour field about the latest developments and prospects for progress.

Which prompted a great deal of conversation, with the ketogenic diet, holistic approaches to patient care and clinicians working closer with allied healthcare professionals being among the questions raised.

The panel included Professor Richard Gilbertson, who chairs both the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission and our Scientific Advisory Board; Professor Colin Watts, who will lead the forthcoming Tessa Jowell BRAIN-MATRIX trial for glioma patients, and Dr Susan Chang, director of neuro-oncology at the University of California, San Francisco.

Professor Gilbertson told the audience the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission was driving forward the changes called for by the late Baroness Jowell, who died last May a year after she was diagnosed with glioblastoma.

These include improving patients’ experience of diagnosis and care as well as ensuring more people with a brain tumour are given the opportunity to try novel treatments alongside standard care.

Professor Watts said too many brain tumour trials had severely restrictive entry criteria, which often meant that only a handful of people would ever be able to participate.

He said the BRAIN-MATRIX trial, in contrast, would be much more widely accessible. The trial, which is being funded with our £2.8m investment, is due to begin recruiting patients later this year.

It will be open to any patient with a glioma categorised as grade 2 or above who is able to undergo surgery.

Dr Chang spoke passionately about the need to provide help for the families and carers of people diagnosed with a brain tumour, who were too often left feeling isolated and unsupported.

Her talk about the need to put patients and their families at the heart of their treatment, as well as patient reported outcomes resonated with everyone in the room. She also talked strongly about the importance of patients, clinicians and researchers working together in partnership.

Jack Morris, who hosted the Ask the Researcher event in his role as chair of our board of trustees, described the evening as ‘hugely worthwhile and inspiring’.

He told the audience: “No-one can pretend there’s an easy fix for such a uniquely complex disease. But we’ve heard much to encourage us.”

We’re hugely grateful to the researchers for sharing their time and expertise, to bring us developments, progress and future research plans.

It was a real show of strength to have so many of our community join us, and we’ll be sharing the footage of the evening on our website shortly.